Each monthly daylong in a Stepping Stones group has a different focus within the arc of the Coming-of-Age program and curriculum. This month in our blog post, we explore our latest curricular theme: Challenge and Adversity.
We all know that challenge and adversity are an unavoidable part of life. The ability to cope with them well is not a given, but a learned skill. Sometimes challenge presents itself during the pursuit of a personal goal, like learning a musical instrument or taking a tough class in school. Sometimes they are beyond our control. For teens these can be things like peer pressure, change in the family or health issues. Learning that one can overcome obstacles, no matter the root cause, sets a foundation for future success.
Psychologists call this developmental skill “resilience.” When young people cultivate an approach to life that views overcoming obstacles as a critical part of success, they become resilient. When resilience is built youth can bounce back from failure, manage stress, cope with loss, and adapt to change. Research shows that one of the keys to building resilience is to have supportive adults guiding youth through difficult times. These adults can help them consider various paths through their struggles and encourage them to make their own decisions while being available for support and encouragement.
What better way is there to describe the role of a mentor in the lives of youth?
In mentoring youth with Stepping Stones, group Leaders think deeply about how their youth participants can face challenge and adversity while feeling comfortable and confident wherever their boundaries are. Leaders often create challenges for the group to face both as a team and individually. Solo time, tending an all-night fire, testing physical limits, and working on interpersonal relationships are all likely occurrences during their time with Stepping Stones.
Groups are also a place for the youth to share and be supported around struggles from their lives outside the group. The relationships that the youth develop with the Leaders, the Elder and each other become sources of strength when they are working through stressful situations and emotions.
How teens learn to manage challenges and adversity has a lasting effect on their future. Each time a youth rises to meet a challenge, they are developing confidence, strength, and resilience. Being part of a Stepping Stones group is an opportunity to give youth ongoing support to develop healthy patterns and grow into young adults, ready to face adversity in all its forms.
Each monthly daylong in a Stepping Stones group has a different focus within the arc of the Coming of Age program and curriculum. This month in our blog post, we explore our latest curricular theme: The Nature of Relationships.
For the questions you answered with a “yes,” think about how old you were when it happened. My guess is that for most, you were between the ages of 11-15.
Each monthly daylong in a Stepping Stones group has a different focus within the arc of the Coming-of-Age program and curriculum. This month in our blog post, we explore our latest curricular theme: The Spirit of Adventure!
Adventure is alive in the SSP groups - both during the daylongs and the summer camping trips. Every time the group meets is an exciting adventure for the youth. How that manifests is different for everyone. For some it’s being outside for extended periods or challenging their boundaries. For others its keeping track of their own gear or being authentic with their peers. What we know is that whatever form the adventure takes, there is always something gained for the youth on their Coming of Age journey with SSP.
We are pleased to share with you a few excerpts from SSP summer trip and daylong summaries written by Leaders and shared with the parents once they returned home. Enjoy the adventures!
"We took the boys to Tam today, hiking up from the Pantoll we found a trail heading to the top. My favorite part of the day was when confronted with a fork in the trail, my adult mind went to check the trail map, trying to stay on track with the 'plan' for the day. Meanwhile, of few of boys followed their sense of adventure, straight up the mountain, to which we all followed and ended up on top of the ridge. With clouds both below and above us, the sky opening up over the ocean and the wind ripping through, it was awesome to see the spirit of adventure really striking into our boys.
"My favorite comment of the day was, 'I don’t even like hiking and this is awesome.' We were all alone up there. We adventured, played, and got caught in the rain."
One of the cornerstones of SSP are the group Leaders. They give so much of themselves to the organization and put their heart and spirit into mentoring the youth in their group. We want to shine a spotlight on a few of our incredible Leaders and their work both with SSP and elsewhere.
Those drawn to work at SSP often see it as a life calling and our first Leader in the spotlight is no exception. Skylar Wilson has lead 5 groups with Stepping Stones over the last 7 years. He also serves on the Program Council whose work includes mentoring and training other Leaders and the wider SSP community. He is dedicated to fostering health, ritual, and mentorship in all of his work.
For Skylar, the most rewarding part of being a SSP Leader is “the two and a half year rite of passage model which is unique to Stepping Stones and has allowed me to go really deep with my groups and with our community. Going through this process over and over has helped me to understand and trust the ways in which personal and collective challenges and shadow-work are inherent to growth and that simply being together, without judgement, is healing and builds the capacity to appreciate life more deeply.”
Outside of SSP, Skylar carries forward his passion for rites of passage work, mentoring, and spiritual connection in many ways. Skylar teaches three days a week at Credo High School, a public charter school in Rhonert Park where he is developing new models of educational pedagogy for relational mentoring in place of traditional teaching. Additionally, Skylar runs his own company - Wild Awakenings - which runs wilderness retreats for groups of all ages, for organizations, and provides one-on-one mentoring.
He directs and produces an interspiritual event that includes dancing and the arts called The Cosmic Mass. They have produced over 100 events around the United States and Canada. He also recently spoke at and lead a ritual during the Parliament of the World's Religions in Toronto.
Skylar and his partner, Jennifer Berit Listug have co-authored the book, Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action. In it, they explore common values and practices for creating diverse postmodern community networks of change-makers dedicated to that which is most sacred: Earth. Skylar and Jen have also published numerous articles on topics related to human evolution and spirituality in Watkins Mind Body Spirit Magazine, Spiritseeker Magazine, Evolving Magazine, Progressive Christianity, and many others. Recently, Skylar was featured on podcasts such as New Dimensions Cafe, Conscious Talk Radio, Inside Personal Growth, Monique Chapman, Wikipolitiki, and many others. Skylar and his co-author Jennifer have started their own podcast called Our Sacred Earth.
You can find more information about all of Skylar's work on his website. In addition to having a family of his own, Skylar’s work adds to his ability to be a fantastic SSP leader. Everything that he does outside of SSP enriches his role and ability to provide incredible experiences for youth. We are so grateful to him for his dedication to the youth he has mentored at SSP over the years.
Each monthly daylong in a Stepping Stones group has a different focus within the arc of the Coming-of-Age program and curriculum. In our monthly blog posts, we describe the importance of each of these aspects of the program and how the Stepping Stones group meets the need. Sometimes you’ll find personal reflections from the Stepping Stones community or tales from an exciting adventure a group embarked on. Read on!
When I was a kid, my family lived up in the hills of near a major metropolitan city. Both of my parents worked, so my brothers and I were often home alone after school. After the bus dropped us off, we’d grab a snack, a few friends, and head straight for “the Gully”. The Gully was a big sunken area full of trees, critters, and all kinds of other wonders. We would turn over rocks to find salamanders and pill bugs, try to catch lizards, and make forts from downed branches and leaves. This kind of time outside, even in a city, was the birth of my connection to nature.
The world is a very different place for youth today. It’s not news to anyone that kids are spending less time outdoors and more time on their devices. Let’s face it, everyone is. According to the non-profit group Common Sense Media, teens are spending more than one-third of their days on screens, almost nine hours on average. For those between the ages of 8 and 12, the average is around six hours per day. Add to that a busier schedule than ever for teens - with school work and a plethora of enrichment activities vying for their time. Where is the bulk of this time spent? Inside. The time to be in nature is limited by busy schedules and the allure and ease of technology.
Voices from the Village: An Intergenerational Panel on Adolescent Development, September 26th 2018, 6:30-8:30pm @ Marin
"Our job as women in this world is to help lift each other up. Nothing, nothing, should ever get in the way of that. My job is to help lift you up, so you can do the same for other women in your life. You're going to be an amazing mother." - Danielle
It has only been a few months since Danielle Gladd passed into the spirit realms in April, but I've, we've, been missing her for a long time already. She certainly earned the term "battle" in her wrestle with cancer, outliving professional opinion, and being simply unwilling to let her illness dim her light. This month we celebrate her birthday, July 27th.
I met Danielle on her first day on the job as Executive Director at Stepping Stones. I was hosting a large Speaker Series event and was invited for dinner beforehand with the Board of Directors to meet her. There, across half eaten pizzas and beer, we shook hands. That was probably the only time we shook hands; we were both huggers.
Stepping Stones Girls Group, also known as the Red Tent Moon Goddesses, spent their daylong building tiny homes for homeless folks.
Every season, each Stepping Stones group has a daylong adventure. This girls group decided to spend theirs giving back to their community at NIMBY, a DIY studio space in Oakland. The girls joined Oakland based artist Greg Kloehn at NIMBY to build mini homes for the homeless. "There are no mistakes" was the day's mantra, as the girls and their leaders drilled, sawed, cut, swept, floored, fitted, cleaned and painted. By the end of the day, two homes were nearly completed with another in the beginning stages!
Stepping Stones Project is currently seeking new members to join our Board of Directors.
If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will have a Board member contact you to provide more information about attending a meeting.